Monday, February 23, 2015

22nd Event: TeamUP Weekend & Thunder Road Half Marathon

TeamUP Weekend at the Charlotte Thunder Road Races!

Please note: These posts for events occurring between October 2014 and February 2015 are overdue but I wanted to finish each of them to start fresh once again. Starting in May of last year I began to struggle with extreme fatigue, which I first thought was simply the result of a very strenuous travel-work-running schedule. I worked hard to get “adequate rest” before launching into my busiest season at the start of September but by then I knew something more serious must be involved. In between road trips I scheduled consults, tests and medical procedures all the while trying to keep up with my events and obligations through the fall and winter. I’m happy to say I was able to manage this…but just barely. For each meeting, race, event, appearance, meal, speaking engagement or celebration you see in my blog photos, the reality was that I would go immediately back to my rental car or hotel and collapse with exhaustion. Although writing a blog requires little physical exertion I found myself feeling lethargic and unable to focus so instead I took advantage of the private moments to rest and conserve as much of my energy as possible.  When I finish updating the missing events I will provide a detailed explanation of my health issues as I hope my doctors have finally determined the cause and likely solution to the fatigue. Thank you for your understanding and patience!

Since I was occupied nearly every second of TeamUP weekend I missed a lot of what was going on behind the scenes. So, I asked Suzanne to do a write-up from her perspective and here it is...
TeamUP Weekend 2014 as written by Suzanne Neal, one of our PR coordinators for TeamUP. Photos with my commentary are attached to the end of her summary:
It was a flurry of activity and fun, as all of the TeamUP co-captains came together in Charlotte November 13th-15th. Many had not seen each other face-to-face since the 2013 weekend, and we have added two co-captains since then, so it was great to get everyone together. We stayed at the Westin in beautiful uptown Charlotte and in addition to the fabulous company we were able to explore fine restaurants. Although we all enjoyed our social time there was also “business” to take care of and we packed a lot into 3 days! The first day, our own Beth Deloria was interviewed on Fox Carolina Morning News. Beth had also been featured in the Charlotte Observer earlier in the week. A man named Terry saw the article and reached out to Beth. It turns out he’d been wearing a plastic brace for more than 20 years! The same afternoon, Jill and Todd were interviewed by News 14 Carolina (they were the lucky two who were the first co-captains to arrive at the hotel!) and they represented the team well. We all gathered for a wonderful dinner and a special surprise: Allard owner Peter Allard had joined us all the way from Sweden!
The next morning Beth and Todd were snagged by the media for a very early – and cold – interview about the Thunder Road race scheduled for the following morning. Then we all met to review business items, including remarks by Peter Allard and Carol Paez, and presentations by Angie Paez and the PR firm, Bouvier Kelly. “Glamour shots” and g-walk analysis videos were filmed by Jeff Petersen Studios throughout the day. Terry, who had met Beth personally the afternoon before, was invited to watch and participate in the g-walk video as well. And following their g-walk videos, co-captains gamely agreed to participate in a less formal video which promises to let everyone know some things you didn’t already know about each co-captain!
(NOTE: What is a G-walk video, you ask? It's a break-through analysis tool for the study of dysfunctional movement and all pathologies related to the somatic nervous system, walk and postural stability. For more info, click here )
We headed over to the convention center that afternoon to pick up our race packets and tour the expo, and this time News 14 interviewed Lisa! So far, all of our co-captains were batting a thousand!
The final morning started out even colder and earlier than the one before. The race was to start at 7:00am and it was only 27 degrees, which made the walk from our hotel to the starting line seem very long. First Lisa started the full marathon followed by our 5K participants, Barbie, Virginia, Shannon, Jill, Craig, Darren, Tamara, Jayme, Angelina--and even Peter Allard! Then the ½ marathoners– Todd, Beth and Jim got started.  Co-captains Jamie and Rod, along with other TeamUP supporters, cheered for the TeamUP crew and everyone finished happy and healthy.
It was an awesome time with an awesome group of people and we can’t wait to do it again!

-Suzanne Neal

Thursday, November 13th:

I am excited beyond words to share a weekend with my TeamUP co-captains. When I was first injured and trying to imagine a life where I could be an athlete again, I searched high and low to find someone with foot drop who was successfully running or competing. I found hundreds of athletic amputees but not one single person with foot drop. Over and over I told myself "I can't be the only one...the only person with foot drop who wants to participate in sports again". It wasn't until years later when I agreed to share my story on a larger stage that I began to meet people like myself; people with foot drop who refused to let their physical condition rob them of their quality of life.

These teammates of mine became instant role models for me. Whether they knew it or not, they helped keep me motivated during difficult times because of how incredibly inspiring they are. Every one of them has faced extreme challenge and seemingly insurmountable obstacles and yet they remained fierce in their tenacity to live life to the fullest. It dawned on me that everyone should know these people and their amazing stories which is how TeamUP was first conceived. The co-captains you'll be meeting were selected to help us share our Get Back UP message across the US and to grow the TeamUP movement. Some are elite athletes, some are "weekend warriors" and some are in a desperate fight just to remain ambulatory. All of these co-captains are inspirational, beautiful souls who have overcome major challenges and refuse to give in or give up. I am so humbled by their strength and the generosity with which they devote their time so that others may become stronger too. I've come to love them all and I know you will too.

The sun is just rising as I arrive in Charlotte for my first live
interview of the weekend. 

No mirrors in here so I'm trying to check the hair
before I go on live television. :-)

The clip for this interview is no longer a live link. :-( However, my sincere thanks go out to the station for spreading the Get Back UP message in the greater Charlotte area. We got a HUGE response via phone calls, emails and personal meet-ups from your viewers.

From the interview I was off to the Westin for pre-weekend meetings with Peter, Carol, Angie and Tamara from Allard USA; we are all meeting the Bouvier Kelly team to discuss the new plan for 2015 before the TeamUP co-captains arrive. Then I'm off to the race Expo with Tamara to get all of our team's goody bags picked up.

Tamara has been and IS the Event Coordinator Extraordinaire
for this exciting weekend. Thank you, Tamara!!!!
(She pretty much looked like this the whole weekend...she
could've saved some arm strain by gluing her phone to her ear.)

I don't usually get to see the race Expo set-up.

Getting excited!

Tamara has been working with Charlotte's Run For Your Life
marketing director, Sara Korinek,
to make sure all goes smoothly for TeamUP. Thank you for
everything you did for us, Sara--you ROCK!
Next we're back to the hotel for another interview and then Tamara and I have a lot of airport shuttling to do as our TeamUP members begin to arrive--can't wait!

Thanks to my dear sweet friend and colleague, Tamara Smith, for thinking
of everything! I had no time for a real meal today but luckily she had packed
healthy snacks and water for every TeamUP co-captain. Time for my
medication & protein (and maybe some full-caf espresso?!) thanks to Tam.
All afternoon amidst the flurry of activity, the co-captains began to arrive. As we made our way to an early dinner we were pleasantly surprised to see that the last of the late arrivals made it in time to join us:
Jill Walsh and Virginia Mamone showing the
GetBackUP love. With the co-captains scattered across
the US there is very little face-to-face time outside of
the rare team weekends.
Shots from the first team meal of the weekend, hosted by Aria Tuscan Grill who allowed us to use their upstairs semi-private loft for no extra service charge. See below for a link to their official website:

I love this shot. Poor Jill (middle) who, upon the very first
meeting of TeamUP captains made the mistake of revealing
that she isn't always comfortable with hugging, gets a double
dose from Virginia and Jayme.
Friday, November 14th:

Todd and I had to run (literally) about 5 blocks to meet a local news team for live takes at tomorrow's starting line. The wind chill was nearly 0 degrees, actually temps were in the high teens at this early hour. WE WERE FREEZING IN OUR SHORTS!

Denny Kelly of Bouvier Kelly PR firm gets her shot on
the other side of the camera. Nice job, Denny!!
Back again to the Westin for a full day of press photos & videos, G-walk gait analysis videos, welcome messages and 2015 strategies and expectations. We did allow the team a short break for lunch at Blackfinn Pub a few blocks away, plus 30 minutes to pick up race packets on the way back from lunch, but other than that we had a packed agenda for our captains. Everyone did an amazing job and incredibly we were able to stay on schedule without having to drop any of our desired agenda items. Remember, TeamUP has only had 1 other opportunity in the last 18 months to be together in the same room--we needed to make the most of this!

2014 Espy Award winner Jamie Whitmore, looking like
the pro that she is as she "works it" for the camera crew.

Peter Allard came all the way from Sweden to meet the team.
Thank you to Peter and to everyone at Allard USA and International
for giving us all a chance for a better life!
Lightning-fast lunch at Blackfinn Pub, thanks to their staff for allowing us to pre-order our meals:

Craig and Barbie enjoy some one-on-one time.

I don't think Barbie wants to let Peter go, she plans to
keep him here in the US.

Do you think the stress of coordinating this weekend
has gotten to Tamara? Someone is in desperate need
of a sugar high!
 TeamUP runners/walkers heading into the Expo to pick up our race packets.
Jamie and Rod, we are so grateful to you for supporting us...we know you'd be on the course with
us if there was any way you could. We will race tomorrow in your honor, and run for all those who can't.
Left to right: Beth, Todd, Virginia, Lisa, Darren, Craig, Peter, Shannon, Jill and Barbie. 
While some co-captains were in the G-walk video sessions, others had photo shoots:
Lisa Victorius

Jill Walsh

Rod Fulmer
During rare "free time" we were busy making our Get Back UP Today signs for tomorrow's races:
Jamie gets her first shot at a GBUT sign...

...while Rod Fulmer demonstrates his skill and
great experience. You're a pro, Rod!

Peter gets into the coloring game!
Saturday, November 15th: RACE DAY!!

A cold and blustery day was in store for us but no one was intimidated. We fully enjoyed our last morning together as a team before the co-captains began to scatter themselves back home. (Sigh.)
Darren's looking regal in his awesome TeamUP jacket. Welcome to the balmy
south, Darren! (For those of you who don't know, he currently lives in Portland)
Tamara, Jayme, Angelina, Barbie, Shannon and Virginia head to the 5K.

Can you tell it's a bit cold here in the "deep south" of NC?
Jill, Darren, Craig and Peter plan to run the 5K in hopes of
(jokingly) earning bragging rights over each other,
while Angie, Barbie, Tamara, Virginia,
Jayme and Shannon plan to make the most of their time
together by walking as a team.

GREAT JOB, Craig and Darren!!

At a later date I hope I can share all of the professional
photos and videos produced from the Jeff Peterson photography team.
I'm sure you'll agree that this wonderful shot of Angelina and her mom, Carol
is so much better than anything I've produced from my iPhone shots!

Jill Walsh gives an interview after finishing the 5K.

Rod Fulmer braved the cold the entire morning
until the very last co-captain crossed the line.
Rod, I love you my friend--thanks for cheering
us across the finish!!

Lisa finished the full marathon--a very hilly and windy course
today--in 3 hours and 38 minutes...just 3 minutes shy of her
Boston Marathon qualifying time. Rod was there at the end
to console then congratulate her. Great run today, Lisa!!

Lisa says "Hey Jamie, you might have an Espy Award and
numerous XTerra championships and a spot on the USA
Paralympic Cycling Team...but you've never had a Get Back UP medal!"
Until today.

SOB!! Tamara and I make a trip to the airport to send off Jamie and Shannon.
Jamie, it was great to finally meet you in person and Shannon...what can I say?
You're my surrogate sister and I wish we lived next door to each other! Thanks
to you both for your dedication to TeamUP and for sharing your incredible spirits
with the world.

...speaking of "incredible spirits"...Lisa has rebounded
in record time from a heartbreakingly close Boston
qualifying time during her great run in the marathon today.
Cheers, Lisa--this is SO better than how you looked after
your very first Half Marathon.
Seriously...incredibly proud of you and honored to
have you, Jared and your parents in my life.
More videos in the hours after the race, plus a great group dinner for all the remaining TeamUP members and photographers. After an extremely exhausting whirlwind weekend for the team, we all deserved a great night's rest right? Well, apparently not....

Yes, that's 4AM the entire Westin was evacuated for a fire alarm.

Barbie, Virginia and I huddle together for warmth. Yes...I know I wasn't supposed to grab
my purse and coat but they were right by the door on my way out so it wouldn't have affected
my speed or jeopardized the safety of others. I promise.

Sunday, November 16th:

Another sad day of saying goodbye to some of my favorite people in the whole world. It will take me awhile to process just how much we accomplished this weekend, and just how much I love my TeamUP family: our sole sponsor Allard and every one of their employees, all of my fellow co-captains, all of our honorary captains (especially Kent Teffetelle), our soon-to-be new captains Trent Clayton and Carl Brance, our PR team and all the people nationwide who've joined the TeamUP movement. My life is so much richer thanks to all of you.

The last of the stragglers to leave town: Tamara, Darren, Virginia, me and Jim.

I had the honor of running the entire Half Marathon with
my co-captain and friend, Todd Hart. We ran the race
in 1 hour 56 minutes and 7 seconds. Thanks for pacing
me, Todd--I would not have run that fast without your help!

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